The liver is a unique organ for homoeostasis with regenerative capacities. Hepatocytes possess a remarkable capacity to proliferate upon injury; however, in more severe scenarios liver regeneration is believed to arise from at least one, if not several facultative hepatic progenitor cell compartments. Newly identified pericentral stem/progenitor cells residing around the central vein is responsible for maintaining hepatocyte homoeostasis in the uninjured liver. In addition, hepatic progenitor cells have been reported to contribute to liver fibrosis and cancers. What drives liver homoeostasis, regeneration and diseases is determined by the physiological and pathological conditions, and especially the hepatic progenitor cell niches which influence the fate of hepatic progenitor cells. The hepatic progenitor cell niches are special microenvironments consisting of different cell types, releasing growth factors and cytokines and receiving signals, as well as the extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffold. The hepatic progenitor cell niches maintain and regulate stem cells to ensure organ homoeostasis and regeneration. In recent studies, more evidence has been shown that hepatic cells such as hepatocytes, cholangiocytes or myofibroblasts can be induced to be oval cell-like state through transitions under some circumstance, those transitional cell types as potential liver-resident progenitor cells play important roles in liver pathophysiology. In this review, we describe and update recent advances in the diversity and plasticity of hepatic progenitor cell and their niches and discuss evidence supporting their roles in liver homoeostasis, regeneration, fibrosis and cancers.
- Hepatic stem/progenitor cells
- Liver homoeostasis
- Liver regeneration
- Stem cell niche
ASJC Scopus subject areas